Things I Have Done Today

  1. Had a briefing meeting about installing PC’s over a coffee at 7.30am.
  2. Met with a supplier’s new manager.
  3. Explained the difference between staff and public computers.
  4. Took someone on a tour through the library site and shown them all of the technology I am responsible for making happen.
  5. Explaining why we have things like Foxtel (Pay TV), X-Boxes and HD-TV in libraries.
  6. Tried to get a new computer build created STAT.
  7. Explained why it is important for the new library to be created as a “site” in our computer system.
  8. Measured joinery ready for a cabinet to be installed.
  9. Demonstrated where cabling for Foxtel is installed through the ceiling.
  10. Tried to find out how wall decals are installed and how long it will take for them to be dry/ready so I can work around them.
  11. Learnt how a PA system works, and what kind of cabling it requires if it has to be cabled more than 15 metres.
  12. Decided where the PA system point will be.
  13. Learnt how a video intercom works.
  14. Explained to someone how a hearing loop works, and what the current Queensland law for hearing loops in public buildings entails.
  15. Learnt how to shut down COMMS boards and why I would need to do so.
  16. Decided on where Foxtel decoder boxes should be mounted.
  17. Designed an ergonomics system for an entire library.
  18. Learned what Corian is, and how you need to cut it or drill holes in it.
  19. Measured desks to sink holes for cables and bolts to go into them.
  20. Finally got to go to the ladies room and grab a drink of water.
  21. Logged on a brand new PC ready to add software and configure it.
  22. Walked away from PC to demonstrate how a desk will be set up ergonomically.
  23. Met with a Self Checkout machine supplier to show him where the new machines will go, and explained how they fit in with other furniture.
  24. Showed an electrician where power and data points were to go and explained the difference between public and staff data points.
  25. Inspected a credenza and how it fits against a wall and where it’s cabling goes.
  26. Showed someone an AV rack, explained each component in it, how it was cabled and what the man sitting in the corner near it with a laptop was doing.
  27. Demonstrated the trompe l’oeil effect of mounting projector screens with different ceiling heights.
  28. Sat down at that brand new PC again, partially installed one piece of software.
  29. Had to run and find the joinery fitter and work out when I can get joinery cut.
  30. Showed two staff how to use the payroll system.
  31. Tried to finish installing that software.
  32. Answered a phone call about ergonomics.
  33. Discussed lighting levels and acoustics.
  34. Was shown a very expensive piece of equipment and now I’ve forgotten what it does.
  35. Managed a complaint about builders leaving half eaten food (noodles) in the middle of sites for 3 days.
  36. Finally got that software installed.
  37. Called three people getting information for an electrician.
  38. Tried to start configuring the PC again.
  39. Ran downstairs to bring someone into the building site.
  40. FINALLY finished that first PC, rebooted it and logged it in ready for the staff to use!
  41. Decided it was time for a break.  Ducked downstairs to a cafe and hid in a corner for 10 minutes with a coffee and some pecan pie, just trying to get my brain back into order.
  42. Answered my phone twice.
  43. Ran back upstairs because someone was looking for me about something in the office next door to the library.
  44. Logged on a second PC to install software and configure it.
  45. Was asked for a DVD to test some equipment.  Thankfully I just HAPPENED to have one in my backpack.
  46. Hung around to watch the equipment being tested, because I’ve worked so hard to get it happening and it’s so lovely I wanted to see.
  47. The first words that came across from the DVD player from a Frasier DVD were “Is this thing on?”  Weird!
  48. Was informed a desk was the wrong design.
  49. Told informer to go away and let me think about it.
  50. Answered my phone again.  Told caller to email me whatever they needed and I’d make it happen… somehow.
  51. Went through a delivery docket with hundreds of pieces of equipment on it and worked out if every piece was there.
  52. Went and looked at desk.  It doesn’t fit.
  53. Freaked out a bit.
  54. Tried to get more software and config done on that second PC.
  55. Decided it would be a good idea to photograph everything I’m doing to document it.
  56. Ran around photographing everything.
  57. Called the boss about the stupid desk.
  58. Solved a problem with networked drives.
  59. Talked to the head builder about all the things we’re trying to get done in the next week.
  60. Tried to find the joinery dudes again.
  61. Sent my two IT techs away for the day, they’d done all they could.
  62. Decided to experiment with the desk.  Asked for volunteers, took photos of the desk with two lady librarians sitting at it.
  63. Went back to that second PC and finally got it finished.
  64. Realised that I needed to measure burly blokes on that desk.
  65. Rounded up the two tallest, broadest shouldered blokes on site and made them model for demonstrative photographs at the desk.
  66. Laughed.  A lot.
  67. Realised I was still carrying a large bolt in my pocket.
  68. Decided at 1.45pm that I was STARVING and needed some space.
  69. Went and got lunch, and was sitting in a corner sending text message photos of the desk with aforementioned burly blokes modelling to the boss when a colleague and an IT manager plonked themselves down with me.
  70. Lunch became a meeting.
  71. Went back to the site.  Gave up on trying to install software and configure PC’s.
  72. Had another run through of the AV.  The AMX programming is coming along nicely, and now the lovely motorised screens go up and down, projectors running, DVD players in, two out of three touch panels installed and looking amazing.
  73. Head builder told us they were turning the power off on us in 5 minutes.
  74. Updated the library TL on progress.
  75. Discussed further requirements with IT manager.
  76. Came home.
  77. Spent 2 hours on emails dealing with “normal” work.
  78. Realised I have to do something similar all day tomorrow.

I AM A LIBRARIAN!!!

Why the hell am I doing all of the above?

Because I love it.  I love technology.  I love working with builders and techies and tradies.  Because I run around a building site in lipstick and hot pink pigtails with all of these burly blokes and laugh and have fun despite the frustration and stress, and enjoy the ever changing task list and environment.  Because I believe in what I do, and I do it for the people of my city/community.

And because I’m bloody good at it!

PS. Operation Baldy is up to $467!!  Almost to the halfway point.  For an update, click here.

December 2, 2010. about me, AV, blokes, computers, humour, IT, laughs, librarians, libraries, organisation, responsibility, technology. 2 comments.

Protecting Your Children

Thinking more about internet censorship today.  I have half a dozen different tangents buzzing around in my head, but I’ll try to pull them out into focused topics for you and publish each one separately.  The reason there is so much buzzing around in my head is because this internet filter that the Australian government are planning to implement has so many flaws and reasons why it’s wrong for the government to do this to the Australian public that one doesn’t quite know where to start!

Today I was thinking about the claims by the government that they plan to implement this mandatory censorship simply to protect children from child pornography.  This is the hub of all their arguments, and it’s a cunning little ploy to force all of us that are against their censorship to look like we actually condone child pornography on the internet.

This is not true.  Those of us who are against censoring the internet are very much against child pornography, but we also know that this “filter” will do NOTHING to protect children from these predators, while actually making it easier for them.

Let me direct you to a fairly good description of how censoring the internet will not prevent or protect children from child pornography…

Click here

Now, as the post above explains, filtering the internet does not cover peer to peer networks (which is what child pornographers are using, and will be using even more once the internet is censored, because it will become even more safe for them).

A simpler explanation is this.  The internet is a whole bunch of computers all around the world, all connecting to each other through a web of internet service providers.  It is possible to filter internet service providers so that things you don’t want people to see are blocked, as well as files and documents are filtered so you can’t share illegal material.  However in doing so, it does things like slow down the service, block things you don’t want blocked, and be controlled by something like a government body.

A peer to peer network is like a small ring or web of computers that are only connected to each other.  Other than those actually in the network, who have been screened and invited, there is no way to block or filter it.  So people who are using p2p have the ability to share illegal material easily amongst themselves, passing it from one to another with no problem at all.  They don’t have to worry about the authorities finding it, because it’s not connected to the greater internet.

This is what child sexual predators are already using to share their disgusting child pornography.  As well as chat rooms, postal mail, and even hand delivery.  The internet filter will not affect this AT ALL.

Child predators do not build websites to lure children in.  They go to where the kids already are (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and other popular sites), pose as other kids and groom them up there to trust them and make decisions that their young minds aren’t ready for.  No filter will fix this.  The only thing that will is awareness in kids as to what is safe behaviour, and good police resources to work towards capturing the predators.

Add to that the fact that the billions of your tax dollars that will be spent on this internet censorship will actually be diverted from areas like police, legal and prison resources that actually DO find, catch, prosecute and sentence child predators.  If the government have money to spend on this ineffective filter, why don’t they devote it ALL to resources that ARE effective?

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to protect children on the internet at an immediate level.  The most effective way is parental supervision.  That doesn’t just mean hovering over the computer while your child uses it, but teaching your kids that stranger danger doesn’t just happen on the streets, that it’s not ok to talk to people on the internet you don’t know.  It means teaching them how to use the internet to find good information and fun safely.  It means having the computer in a common area of the house if you have children, so that you are present to answer their questions or notice strange behaviour.  And if you have quite young children (under 10) then there are inexpensive software packages that help YOU choose what they can and cannot access on the internet.  Perhaps the government could spend the billions of dollars of your tax money in providing this software to every household that has a child?  It could quite easily be sent home from school with them, or mailed to you.  Or on a government website for you to download.

Instead of offering all these solutions that we know actually work, they plan to put an mandatory internet filter in place that will not actually help prevent child pornography or catch any child predators are out there.

Which raises the question… what is it that they really want to block us from seeing and why? Food for thought hmmm?

January 11, 2010. Australia, censorship, child pornography, child predators, children, education, internet, No Clean Feed, paedophiles, pedophiles, peer to peer networks, police, politics, responsibility, safety, taxes, technology, transparency. 4 comments.

Dangerous Assumptions

I think it’s time for me to blog about the Australian governments plan to censor our internet again, don’t  you?

One worrying thing I am seeing coming out of this is a tendency for there to form a “them and us” mentality around the whole situation.  There is an assumption that the people who are for the plan to censor the internet are all “overly moral Christians” and that those who are against it are “internet civil libertarians” or members of the sex industry.

I feel this is really dangerous thinking on both sides of the fence.

For those who are campaigning against the internet censorship, it’s dangerous to be thinking of all of those who are for it, or on the fence about it as either being the enemy, being overly  moral, or linking it to their faith.  Many Australians who are against the governments plan to censor the internet are Christian (myself included), have families, and are even… such a dirty word… conservative.  Assuming that these people aren’t on the same team is only going to alienate them and divide the number of voices speaking out against it.  Don’t assume that the secular far left are the only ones who are against internet censorship.

On the other side of the coin, as a Christian, I urge my fellow Christians not to swallow the line that is being sold to them by the Australian government without further investigation.  Don’t fall into the trap of believing that this plan is only opposed by those who are protecting their access to pornography, controversial matter or violent games.  Don’t fall into the trap of believing that this “filter” kind of censorship is actually going to protect your children, or any other children for that matter, from paedophiles and predators.  And like those who are already campaigning against the plan to censor our internet, don’t fall into a them and us mentality.

This is an issue that affects every Australian.  This isn’t about levels of morality or protecting anyone.  What it boils down to is that our government are forcing THEIR beliefs on to us by imposing censorship.  I believe that a fundamental value of democracy is freedom of speech and information.  For the government to censor information and freedom of speech in any way is against what it means to be a democracy.

Your beliefs are YOURS.  The government can regulate what is seen in public places, but WE as a nation need to be the ones that determine democratically what is illegal and what is suitable for children.  Any filter imposed by the government and with content lists that are secret and not available to the Australian people to know what is being withheld and challenge that, is not democratically determined by the Australian people.   The Australian government are employed by US as OUR representatives – not to be our parents or police or tell us what we should or should not do.

As an adult, so long as the content of any media is legal, you should be able to access it in their own home.  They  of course have the responsibility to ensure that children only see age appropriate material, but this is their responsibility and not the governments.

All Australians need to come together regardless of their spiritual beliefs/ideology, this is an issue that should be of concern to all of us.  Our very democratic society is threatened by this plan of censorship, and I urge you to find out all of the details before assuming what the government is telling you is really the case, and to let go of any “them and us” mentality, or we’re going to be sunk before we get even anywhere near making it clear to our government that this is not acceptable.

January 2, 2010. Australia, censorship, cultural change, democracy, ethics, facts, freedom, generalisations, ideology, information, internet, No Clean Feed, organisation, politics, prejudice, responsibility, transparency, values. 5 comments.

The Big Bad Internet

As a bit of a follow up to my dashed out letter to my local MP that I posted last night, with regards to the Australian government’s plans to implement mandatory ISP level internet filtering, I thought I would talk a little about my experience with the internet as an “early adopter” from the mid-90’s.

One of the “reasons” being touted by the Australian government for implementing filtering is to prevent people from “accidentally” stumbling into material such as child pornography or terrorism sites.  I’ve been using the internet for about 15 years now, and as part of my job, I have had to do things like look up lists of sites on filtered lists for public internet access (not to censor them, but because they are inappropriate for a public venue), I’ve had to run search engine tests on BIZARRE phrases and keywords, I’ve even had to go actively looking for sites that would be considered offensive, even illegal as part of usability testing.

And with my hand on my heart, I can tell you I have never accidentally stumbled into either child pornography or terrorist sites.  Of course I’ve encountered plenty of porn sites, none of which weren’t blatantly obvious that they were porn in a search list, or by their URL.  So I can say I’ve never accidentally stumbled into those either.

The thing is, people who want to publish child pornography and terrorist material know  how to hide it.  If every day people could stumble into it, it would be much easier for the authorities to find it and track it.  They know how to protect themselves, to mask their material so that only they and those they trust and want to view it can view it.  No national internet filter is going to be of any use to keeping these cretins away from everyday people because they do it themselves.

All filters like these are going to do is force this stuff underground.  In countries like China and Iran where regular websites are filtered (Facebook, Twitter etc), lots of people know how to work around it and not be caught.  If we put filters on all internet access for Australians, all it is going to do is push the child pornographers and nutcases to be even more cunning than they already are, waste a lot of tax payers money and turn our access to online information in this country into a joke.

What WILL help the Australian population have access to a safe online environment is the education of both children and adults in how to use the internet in a savvy and sensible manner.  How to recognise high quality information and sites, and how to use their own brains to filter out the trash and the offensive stuff.  We need to sink money into good quality internet access for ALL Australians so that Aussies can become the creators and curators of high quality internet content.  We need to educate parents in using the internet and taking responsibility for what their children access on the internet.

We also need our tax dollars to be spent on finding and catching child pornographers, sex offenders, drug traffickers and other criminals.  We need to be engaging the police at all levels with funding and resources to do their jobs and remove the evil element from our society.  Not spend tax money on ineffective and censorious internet filters.

By censoring what Australians have access to, and how we use the internet, which is just another form of media as radio, television, press etc are, our government is turning our nation into an embarrassment on the world stage.  It puts us in the league of China and Iran, who heavily censor the internet access of their people.  We should be in the league of Finland, who recently ruled that broadband internet access is a legal right of their citizens.

It also leads me to ask just what is going to be filtered.  We start with child pornography and terrorist material.  Ok, those are things that we definitely want to keep out of any media.  But then it covers things that are “refused classification” because they are offensive.  But offensive to whom?  Offensive to the government?  Does this mean that if I speak out against the government in my blog, that my work becomes refused classification on the grounds that it is offensive?  From the leaked ACMA blacklist, we see that sites on euthanasia, suicide, abortion, gambling and pornography are refused classification.  Who is the government to tell us that we cannot access this information?  I am an adult, I have read books and seen websites on all of these subjects, and yet I have never committed a crime or partaken in the activities detailed in such books and websites.

Australians have always been proud of our freedom of information and right to free speech.  Censoring the internet is no different to censoring the media.  We need to tell our government that this plan to implement mandatory internet filtering is not acceptable, and that we have the right to free information and speech in this country.

For an excellent opinion piece on the subject from Google’s official blog, click here. Google make some excellent points on how they already take responsibility to filter child pornography from their search results, and their concern about the broadness of “refused classification” as a level of filtering.

For more information, try the following sites:

Stop Internet Censorship

Somebody Think of the Children

December 16, 2009. Australia, censorship, ethics, freedom, information, internet, morals, No Clean Feed, responsibility. 2 comments.

No Clean Feed

Ok, so I just sat down and wrote a letter to my local MP.  Because this is something that really matters to me.  If you are concerned about the issue of censorship of the internet in Australia, and about mandatory ISP level filtering, I urge you to write to your MP yourself.  You can find yours by going to the Australian Electoral Commission website and entering your postcode or suburb.  We need intelligent, organised, rational action from as many Australians as possible to challenge this restrictive, backwards action from our government.  I hope you can take the time to take part in this, because inaction now will only mean more restrictions and censorship in the future.

Here is my  letter (written very quickly in one big rush!) to my MP:

Dear Mr Perrett,

I am writing to you as a member of your constituency in Moreton, and as someone who voted for you in November 2007. I voted Labor because the archaic attitudes of the then Howard government frightened me, and were not reflective of the kind of country I believe Australia is, nor should it be.

Today I heard the news that your government has given the green light to introduce mandatory ISP level filtering of the internet for “refused classification” level material. This is the kind of restrictive, backwards attitude towards the Australian people’s right and responsibility to access and use the media (and not just the internet) freely and openly that I would have expected from the Howard government.

I am a librarian. I work in information technology for public libraries, working very hard to ensure that our country today has access to information and education and improved literacy. Censorship and access to information is important to me as a librarian, an Australian and someone who believes in our right to freedom of information and Australians taking the personal responsibility for their use of information and the media.

I do understand that there need to be measures in place to ensure criminal activity is stopped, as well as vulnerable members of our society being protected while using all forms of media. But this should not happen through mandatory censorship of all Australians. We are not China Mr Perrett, and to me, the concern is in that “refused classification” will broaden and expand to encompass anything that the governing body does not want Australians to have access to. If a group of people gather peacefully online to show dissent and lampoon your government, does this mean that the tools/sources used can be refused classification as well? That voices of Australians are silenced?

I have always been proud to be an Australian and sang our praises as a country that has access to all media freely that other parts of the world do not – even Western cultures like the USA and Britain. Australians are generally far more versed in events, politics, world news, history and all subjects than our equivalents around the world. For any form of censorship to be placed on us mandatorily is not only offensive, but it is a global embarrassment.

Add to this that as it is, internet access in Australia is already backwards, adding mandatory filtering is only going to force the technology further behind in speed, accuracy and usability.

It is MY responsibility to use the internet and all other forms of media legally, responsibly and to take an active role in knowing what my children and children I am responsible for are using in the media. It is not the Australian governments role to intervene as though I and all other Australian citizens are incapable of taking these responsibilities ourselves. The Australian government need to be part of educating the Australian people on HOW to use media responsibly, appropriately and safely, not deciding how to do that for them.

I urge you to think carefully about what your constituents want, and our rights and responsibilities as Australian citizens. I urge you to listen and indeed join Australian people in raising their voices to say clearly that mandatory internet filtering and censorship is not acceptable.

Show that you are committed to finding reasonable, working solutions to smart media education for ALL forms of media and information without censorship of a nation of people who are proud of their freedom of information. I thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

December 15, 2009. censorship, freedom, information, internet, No Clean Feed, responsibility, technology, transparency. 10 comments.

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